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Griffith seeks his own talks with Opposition

By Andre Bagoo Monday, January 13 2014

click on pic to zoom in
NATIONAL Security Minister Gary Griffith ...
NATIONAL Security Minister Gary Griffith ...

NATIONAL Security Minister Gary Griffith is seeking a meeting with the Opposition parties in relation to the drawing up of a National Security Policy.

Griffith yesterday said he has approached the Opposition Chief Whip Marlene Mc Donald, PNM Public Relations Officer Faris Al Rawi and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner seeking a meeting.

“I do intent to meet with the Opposition parties to look at different measures and to hear their views,” he said. “It is their call. I am available. I spoke with the ILP interim leader on Friday and last week I contacted the PNM’s PRO and the Whip.”

The Minister’s disclosure of moves to hold further talks with the Opposition parties comes amid already ongoing talks spearheaded by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Efforts to contact Mc Donald and Al Rawi were unsuccessful.

Warner yesterday confirmed he had been approached by Griffith.

“We spoke in Parliament and we agreed to meet next week at his convenience,” Warner said.

Griffith also disclosed that the National Security Council held a meeting on Friday at the International Waterfront Centre while Parliament was in session. The meeting started at about 3 p.m. Griffith said he was not present for the entire meeting, having to deal with Parliamentary matters. He declined to say what was the outcome of this meeting.

The Minister said the State will continue to focus on implementing standard operations procedures. He noted “gun-spotter” equipment which is proposed for implementation could impact crime by increasing police responsiveness.

“Whenever a gun is fired, we would know about it immediately and this would enable a rapid response,” he said.

In light of last week’s disclosure that the process of selecting a Police Commissioner has now, after almost a year, gone back to square one, Griffith said the State has several options in reforming the process.

“The current process is a cumbersome, long and expensive process and is obviously not as effective as it should be,” he said. “That said, an acting police commissioner already has all the powers of a substantive police commissioner. However, it is a fact that in any organisation, especially in law enforcement, the person who holds that position should not be acting for a very long time.” Griffith did not say if any legislative reform is immediately planned, but noted the State had many options. He said one option would be to remove half of the steps in the current process.

In a press release issued on Friday, Griffith described as “misleading” a claim by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley that the State was planning to insert a senior police officer as Police Commissioner. Griffith noted that the process of appointment of a Police Commissioner involves the independent Police Service Commission (PSC) and several stages of legal procedures, including an open Parliament debate on the candidate.

Griffith also stated he is considering “twinning” the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service with the New York City Police Department.

He also said he is awaiting submission of a report from current New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton – who has been a consultant on the crime situation here.

Griffith said he had received preliminary proposals from another consulting group under former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Griffith said the proposals called for: better compiling of statistics and computerisation; better crime scene investigation and detection; removing fear from citizens so that more persons come forward with information and introduction of systems to weed out rogue elements in the Police Service.

“I received these last week and I am in the process of reviewing it,” Griffith said.

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